As experienced divorce attorneys at Mattox & Wilson, we’ve encountered a variety of unique scenarios, each with its own complexities. One question that comes up from time to time is: “I can’t find my spouse. Can I still get divorced in Indiana?” The straightforward answer is, yes, you can. But, like all legal matters, the process is layered and involves some crucial steps.
Despite the digital age we live in, losing contact with your spouse is not as rare as you might think. The good news is, Indiana law has provisions that accommodate these situations. An individual can still file for divorce even if they do not know where their spouse is currently residing.
“Reasonable efforts” to locate a spouse is a standard used in court to ensure that an individual has taken sufficient steps to locate their spouse before proceeding with an action such as divorce via service by publication. What counts as “reasonable” can vary depending on the specifics of the case, but generally, it involves the following actions:
The key is to show the court that you’ve made a significant effort. You’ll need to provide evidence of these attempts, so be sure to document each step you take. Courts tend to favor those who can demonstrate that they’ve made extensive and sincere efforts to locate their spouse.
If you’ve made a reasonable effort to locate your spouse and failed, the court provides an alternative means of notifying your spouse about the divorce proceedings: publication in the newspaper. This method is also known as ‘service by publication.’
To use this method, you must first make reasonable efforts to locate your spouse. Once the court is satisfied with your attempts, they will grant permission for service by publication. You will then need to publish the divorce notice in a newspaper that the court deems most likely to be read by your spouse. This is typically a newspaper in the last known location of the spouse.
The notice must run for a specified period, usually about 30 days. This provides the other party with an opportunity to come forward and respond to the divorce proceedings.
After the notice has been published and the specified time has elapsed without any response, you can move forward with the divorce proceedings. The court will issue what is called a “default judgment,” treating the case as if your spouse were notified personally and chose not to respond.
Absolutely. The goal is to provide a spouse with an opportunity to participate in the proceedings. If, after the waiting period, there is no proof that a spouse saw the notice, the divorce can still be finalized. The court will issue a ‘default judgment,’ which allows the divorce to proceed as though the spouse were present.
This process may sound simple, but it can be complex and time-consuming without legal guidance. At Mattox & Wilson, we have the expertise to guide you through every step, ensuring that you navigate this process as smoothly as possible. If you find yourself in this predicament or have any other divorce-related queries, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to provide the legal support you need during this challenging time.